“Undignified”, “humiliating”, “belittled”—BAME experience at the BBC

A source at the BBC has leaked us this resignation letter that someone sent out to all employees. The experiences described herein stand in stark contrast to the commitments the BBC made towards its BAME staff.

Dear all,

As a woman of colour I already know what it’s like to live in a world of systemic sexism and racism. Being a freelancer at the BBC brought another layer of discrimination, culminating in the current neglect of freelancers during a global pandemic.

I don’t want to continue at the BBC in this undignified capacity; undignified because management has undermined mine and PAYE freelancer’s dignity. We feel our concerns over furlough, our livelihoods, our health and financial security, have not mattered. Hiding behind feigned sympathy for our plight and tossing us a few shifts – that could only be acquired through a humiliating process given the machiavellian antics of our scheduler – and knowing full well we were struggling to make ends meet is not how a caring employer behaves.

Having experienced the language services who did not offer their producers much better than a glorified translator’s role while also subjecting them to different social rules than the country they’re working and living in, I was hoping my time in the world newsroom would be more fulfilling.

But it came with its own hypocrisies; the need to balance some stories and not others, covering the government’s furlough scheme for the self-employed while ignoring the needs of the organisation’s own freelancers, covering #BlackLivesMatter with barely any black producers in the newsroom or in front of the camera, watching a workstation in the middle of the newsroom be cartoonishly taped off because someone working there just tested positive for COVID-19 while we carry on working and reporting exclusively on the horrific number of deaths from the virus, the disproportionate coverage given to a few killings in a western country as opposed to hundreds in a brown country, etc.

It always struck me that support was offered to those of New Zealand heritage after the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, yet the almost daily deluge of violent deaths of black and brown people did not seem to prompt the same specific offers of support to those coming from that background. I wonder if that’s because there are not many people of colour in World TV or is it due to a different bias. At this stage I have little faith in the ‘embrace listening session’ that has just been introduced; I hope it’s the start of something substantive.

After working random patterns of overnight shifts for one and a half years I alerted my scheduler of the toll that was taking on my physical and mental health. I was then moved to dayside; but every time the services of WTV freelancers were reduced (like in October last year and now again due to COVID-19) I have mostly been offered the very overnight shifts that proved detrimental to me. Sometimes I could say no, but recently with rent and other expenses I had to accept what was offered – and the way it was offered which often made me feel belittled.

No doubt the BBC is a prestigious organisation but for too long I have let the superficiality of that be the reason that I continue freelancing here. But I can now no longer make that compromise within myself.

From here on in I do not wish to continue working at the BBC.

Best regards

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